If spring is in the air, pollen and other allergens are probably in the air as well. While the start of the spring season may bring a welcome change in the weather, it often also brings aggravation and discomfort to allergy sufferers.
If you’re an allergy sufferer, you may notice that your oral health problems increase during allergy season. This may not be a coincidence. You might think of seasonal allergies as simply affecting your respiratory system, but they can also have a negative impact on your mouth and oral tissues. Take a look at some of the ways that your seasonal allergies may be having a negative impact on your oral health.
1. Bad Breath
At first glance, bad breath may seem like a minor problem while you’re battling congestion and postnasal drip. However, bad breath can be off-putting to others and can be embarrassing in professional or personal interactions. Bad breath can also affect the taste of food and drinks, which can detract from your enjoyment of your meals.
If you can’t seem to improve your bad breath no matter how much brushing and flossing you do and you also have a sore throat, the problem may be caused by your allergies. Allergies that cause postnasal drip result in a lot of mucus draining from your sinus cavity into the back of your throat. The bacteria in that mucus can result in a throat infection.
The bacteria that causes your throat infection can also give off an unpleasant scent, which then comes out of your mouth when you breathe. The result? Bad breath that’s difficult to get rid of because the smell originates in your throat. No amount of brushing and flossing will get rid of it.
You may need an antibiotic to get rid of the bacterial infection. In the meantime, mints and gum can cover the scent temporarily. Gargling with warm salt water can help soothe the sore throat and get rid of the smell. The antibacterial properties of the salt can also help reduce the bacteria that are causing the problem.
2. Dry Mouth
Often allergy sufferers experience dry mouth in addition to their other allergy symptoms. Dry mouth can have several causes. If you frequently have a stuffy nose, breathing through your mouth can cause it to dry out. Many allergy medications can also cause dry mouth.
Dry mouth, or xerostomia, is often dismissed as another uncomfortable symptom by allergy sufferers. Many don’t see dry mouth as a dental problem. However, saliva is important to your dental health.
Saliva protects your teeth from decay and washes bacteria and food particles away from your teeth. It also aids in digestion, making it easier for you to chew and swallow food. If your mouth is dry, you don’t have enough saliva. A lack of saliva can not only make it harder for you to eat and speak, but it can also lead to more cavities and tooth decay.
One way to combat dry mouth is by increasing your water intake. Staying well-hydrated is crucial to producing enough saliva. If your allergy medication is causing dry mouth, switching medications might help. Your dentist may also be able to recommend medication or special rinses that can increase your saliva production and keep your mouth moist.
If your teeth hurt, your first thought may be that you have a cavity or a tooth infection or that you’ve injured your teeth in some way. But when you’re suffering from seasonal allergies and you develop a toothache, that pain could be another allergy symptom.
Like so many other allergy symptoms, toothaches can be caused by mucus. When your allergies are acting up, mucus can build up in your sinuses, causing congestion. Your maxillary sinuses, located on either side of your nose, sit on top of your upper jaw.
When those sinuses become congested, they put pressure on your teeth and the nerves in your mouths, resulting in toothaches and tooth sensitivity. You may notice pain only when you eat or drink something cold or hot, you may feel it when you move your head, or you might feel the pain constantly.
If your tooth pain is caused by congested sinuses, taking a prescription or over-the-counter anti-allergy medication that relieves the sinus congestion should relieve the pain. If your teeth feel fine until your allergy medication wears off, it’s a good sign that your tooth pain is allergy related. However, if you’re still feeling pain after the congestion has been relieved, schedule a visit with your dentist to find the source of the pain.
Spring allergies can be enough of a hassle without adding dental problems to your plate as well. If you’re a seasonal allergy sufferer, ask your dentist about things you can do to treat or prevent allergy symptoms that affect your oral health.